The Unity Christian Crusaders and Zeeland East Chix met on Friday night with a guaranteed berth to the playoffs on the line. The two teams both entered with a 5-3 record, meaning that the winner would guarantee themselves a spot in the playoffs while the loser would sweat it out on Sunday for an at-large berth. Early offense sparked Unity, lifting them to a 55-28 win in this contest.
Paul Vanderploeg got the scoring started in this contest, as his one yard touchdown gave the Crusaders a seven point lead. On their next possession, fullback Jackson Bush burst through the Chix defense for a twenty four yard touchdown of his own. The Chix would get on the board in the first when quarterback Ethan Houghtaling tossed a forty yard touchdown to Thomas Zegunis. This made it 14-7 after the first quarter of action.
The Crusaders got a big play early in the second quarter to extend their lead. Drew Chandler burst through the lune and went eighty yards for a score. Houghtaling tried to bring the Chix back in this one as he marched the team down the field before he found Cebastin Hunderman for a five yard touchdown. Unity Christian was able to take a substantial lead and seize the momentum in the final minute of the first half. First, Isaac TeSlaa ran three yards for a touchdown. On the last play of the half, Grant Balcer made a forty-one yard field goal to give Unity a 31-14 halftime lead.
Austin Schuiteman kept the momentum rolling for the Crusaders when he caught a pass from TeSlaa and went eighteen yards for the score on Unity’s opening drive of the second half. Three minutes later, Malekhi Obande added to the margin with a thirty-six yard touchdown run. Before the quarter ended, Houghtaling found Hunderman again for a fifteen yard touchdown to move the score to 45-21 in favor of Unity Christian before the start of the fourth quarter.
In the final frame of action, Unity continued to expand their lead when Kobe Beute ran thirty six yards for a touchdown. After a two yard run by Adam Cassel for Zeeland East’s final score, Balcer kicked a twenty nine yard field goal to move the game to its final margin of twenty seven points.
With the win, Unity Christian is officially into the playoffs for the sixth straight season. They will look to begin their Division 5 State Title defense next week. Zeeland East, at 5-4, is not a lock for the postseason, but it appears that their playoff point totals all but guarantee a football game next week. Both teams will learn their fate on the MHSAA Football Selection show this Sunday.